indianz.com your internet resource indianz.com on facebook indianz.com on twitter indianz.com on Google+
ph: 202 630 8439
Native American Bank - Native people investing in Native communities
Advertise on Indianz.Com
Home > News > Headlines
Print   Subscribe
Tim Giago: Separating the mixed-bloods from the full bloods

Filed Under: Opinion
More on: termination, tim giago, utah, ute
   

Notes from Indian Country
By Tim Giago (Nanwica Kciji)
© Unity South Dakota

Racism isn’t just confined to individuals. Sometimes democratic governments are guilty of it.

Take the case of the Japanese Americans confined to concentration camps during World War II simply because they were Japanese; an injustice that was eventually corrected with restitution.

And then there are the strange cases that occurred in the 1950s under a federal government’s new policy called “termination.” A United States Senator from Utah named Arthur V. Watkins, a Republican, was the “terminator” in many of these cases.

Senator Watkins determined that the only way to treat the “Indian problem” was to eliminate it by taking away all of the government’s connections to the Indian tribes and setting them free. He believed he knew what was good for the Indians whether they consented to termination or not.

The policies of termination turned out to be so horrific for so many innocent Indians that the policy was eventually dropped and tribes that had been terminated were restored to their original status prior to termination.

One day about 20 years ago I got a letter from a lady named Oranna Felter, a former member of the Ute Indian Tribe of Utah who was no longer considered an Indian because she and 490 members of the tribe were terminated as Indians because they did not have 50 percent degree of Ute Indian blood. Every member of the tribe with 50 degrees or less was cut from the tribal rolls, or as Ms. Felter told me, “As if we were cattle or sheep.”

Last week Ms. Felter said, “We have put lawsuit after lawsuit in the courts and we have been kicked out each time. We don’t have any income so we’ve had to do this on donations from our people who are not rich. After years and years of struggles to regain what we lost, our lands, gas, oil, minerals, and our identity, we are fed up. My people are old and tired, our babies on the rolls are now in their early 60s and I have seen horror stories you could never imagine that has happened to my people. I told my kids the hardest fight I ever had to fight was to be who I am and who I was born, an American Indian.”

She added, “When your own tribe is kicking you in the teeth because they don’t want to share with you, it’s pretty damned hard.”

The 490 terminated Ute Indians said no to termination. And yet because they were of mixed-blood, they were singled out for termination while the rest full bloods of the Ute Tribe were not.

In 1975, Congress set up the American Indian Policy Review Commission headed by Senator James Abourezk of South Dakota and Congressman Lloyd Meeds of Washington. Task Force Ten, under this Commission, was headed by Jo Jo Hunt with members, John Stevens, Robert V. Bojarcas and George E. Tomer. Their job was to investigate “Terminated and Non Federally Recognized American Indians and the effects of Termination.

They visited the Ute Reservation and named the 490 terminated mixed-bloods “The Terminated Uinta Band of Utes of Utah.” The Task Force determined that “Termination was another “experiment” however ill-conceived and destructive with no controls and no provisions for reversal. Termination was not initiated by the Indians, was not adequately understood by them and was not for the most part “not consented by them.”

The terminated Uinta Band of Utes were given slips of paper called “Shares” that, in the most complicated legal talk, supposedly explained to the terminated Indians how their lands would be handled after termination. The Shares were held in Trust and each individual Indian was treated as a child by the Trustee in determining the value and disposal of the “Shares.”

Many of the “Shares” which included land and mineral rights were snapped up by local Mormons and by some corporations. It should also be noted that when Ute lands were broken up into allotments under the Dawes Act of 1887 and each individual Ute’s name was put on the list of allotees, after all of the land was accounted for there remained thousands of acres that were not allotted. These lands were put up for sale to the general public and the parents of Sen. Arthur V. Watkins snapped up many acres of this Ute land. The Dawes Act was another federal act by the United States to Americanize the Indian and another slick way to gain millions of acres of Indian land.

In 1975 the American Indian Policy Review Commission made recommendations to restore terminated tribes to their original status. That was a long time ago and the Uinta Band of Utes is still waiting.

Ms. Felter told me that of the 490 terminated Utes many are dying and most are elderly and ill. “When I was terminated I was 11 years old and I did not and could not vote for termination. All I know is we were forcibly subjected to the de-indianization Senator Watkins concocted for us. When I was still very young my parents died as a result of post-termination deprivation and disease as did my younger sister and many others.”

She concluded, “Tim, we have been very patient, but we can wait no longer. Our children and our children’s children are depending on us to find a way to recover the Treaty Rights stolen from us. We need your help. We have tried to follow conventional rules and policies to make our voices heard, but we have been ignored, ridiculed, abused and shut out.”

A part of what Oranna Felter expressed to me was sent in a letter to President Barak Obama. I hope that someone reads this column and writes to their Congressman and that Obama reads the letter from Ms. Felter and that justice will finally come to the terminated Uinta Band of Utes to correct a horrible injustice foisted upon them so many years ago.

If the government can act to bring justice for the Japanese Americans, surely they can find a way to bring justice to the Uinta Band of Utes, the First Americans.

Oranna Felter can be reached at mykewass@ubtanet.com for more information.

Tim Giago, an Oglala Lakota, was born, raised and educated on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. He was a Nieman Fellow at Harvard in the Class of 1991. He was inducted into the South Dakota Newspaper Hall of Fame in 2007. He can be reached at Unitysodak1@knology.net

More from Tim Giago:
Tim Giago: Was the Indian Reorganization Act good or bad? (1/28)
Tim Giago: Eulogies for three great leaders in Indian Country (1/21)
Tim Giago: The destruction of Wounded Knee by AIM in 1973 (1/14)
Tim Giago: 'Wiping away the tears' after Wounded Knee 1890 (12/31)
Tim Giago: Incompetence overwhelms at Bureau of Indian Affairs (1/7)


Copyright © Indianz.Com
More headlines...
Stay Connected:

Local Links:
Federal Register | Indian Gaming | Jobs & Notices | In The Hoop | Message Board
Latest News:
Native Sun News: Urban Indian organization seeks new center (11/26)
Tentative schedule for White House Tribal Nations Conference (11/26)
White House invites youth to DC for Tribal Nations Conference (11/26)
Leslie Wheelock: Touting nation-to-nation trading and tourism (11/26)
Kevin Abourezk: A mystery of Indian agents with same name (11/26)
Michael Allen: My ancestor took part in Sand Creek Massacre (11/26)
Dean Suagee: EPA's Clean Power Plan affects Indian Country (11/26)
Mark Rogers: Finding something to be thankful for this holiday (11/26)
Former convicted leader of Crow Tribe seeks to clear his name (11/26)
Blackfeet Nation denies political motive in arrest of ex-leader (11/26)
Appeal set in dispute over Navajo Nation presidential hopeful (11/26)
Judge allows NFL team lawsuit against young Native activists (11/26)
NPR: Alaska Natives put traditional spin on Thanksgiving meal (11/26)
Column: Group helps rescue dogs from Pine Ridge Reservation (11/26)
First Nation offers reward for information about missing man (11/26)
First Nations face loss of funds over failure to submit salaries (11/26)
Santa Ysabel Band responds to state lawsuit over online bingo (11/26)
Citizen Potawatomi Nation to meet over liquor sales at casino (11/26)
Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe could lose casino's liquor license (11/26)
Mashantucket Tribe looks to shift revenues away from gaming (11/26)
Agua Caliente Band selects planner to revamp land near casino (11/26)
Washington gaming panel cuts jobs as non-Indian revenue falls (11/26)
Native Sun News: Oglala Sioux Tribe to issue IDs at tournament (11/25)
James Giago Davies: Polygamy and shunning in Lakota culture (11/25)
Ben Shelly: There's a lot to be thankful for on the Navajo Nation (11/25)
Cara Cowan Watts: Share the blessings of the Cherokee Nation (11/25)
Joe Sexton: BIA's 'ugly' land policies stuck in the 19th century (11/25)
Jenny Durkan: Cop who killed Native man wasn't charged either (11/25)
Oklahoma claims Citizen Potawatomi Nation must collect taxes (11/25)
Divided court won't extend Seneca Nation immunity to business (11/25)
Vice: North Dakota tribe sees $25M a month in energy royalties (11/25)
Members of Lumbee Tribe proud to carry on tradition of service (11/25)
Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe donates $10K to local food pantry (11/25)
Slate: Non-Indians were encouraged to move to tribal territory (11/25)
Column: Remains of Dakota man hanged in 1862 kept in home (11/25)
Family members plead guilty to thefts from reservation town (11/25)
Authorities investigate fatal crash involving Bad River officer (11/25)
Editorial: Yakama Nation must disclose plans for clean water (11/25)
Roy Burton: Montana tribe puts its people at risk with gaming (11/25)
Lawmaker asks BIA to wait on Cowlitz Tribe casino acquisition (11/25)
Gaming compacts on agenda for 2015 session in New Mexico (11/25)
Quapaw Tribe faces even more competition for Kansas casino (11/25)
Pala Band wins final approval for online gaming in New Jersey (11/25)
Mashantucket Tribe still thinking about Massachusetts casino (11/25)
Tim Giago: Cornflakes every Sunday at Indian boarding school (11/24)
Charles Trimble: A time to give thanks -- For whatever reason (11/24)
Mark Trahant: Incoming Alaska governor opens doors to tribes (11/24)
more headlines...

Home | Arts & Entertainment | Business | Canada | Cobell Lawsuit | Education | Environment | Federal Recognition | Federal Register | Forum | Health | Humor | Indian Gaming | Indian Trust | Jack Abramoff Scandal | Jobs & Notices | Law | National | News | Opinion | Politics | Sports | Technology | World

Indianz.Com Terms of Service | Indianz.Com Privacy Policy
About Indianz.Com | Advertise on Indianz.Com

Indianz.Com is a product of Noble Savage Media, LLC and Ho-Chunk, Inc.